Ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League encounter with Manchester City on Monday night, Jack Lusby selects his combined XI from the two sides.
Manchester City vs. Liverpool. Etihad Stadium, Monday 25 August, 8pm.
It’ll be a hotly contested encounter on the pitch, and Liverpool and Manchester City will likely enjoy an intense rivalry throughout 2014/15 in the race for the Premier League title.
But which side has it better individually?
Here is our combined XI, taken from both the City and Liverpool squads—complete with manager, and rudimentary tactics.
Manager: Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)
Okay, Manuel Pellegrini is a Premier League winner but, blessed with the strength in depth and money coming out of his ears this is a lesser task than that which Brendan Rodgers has accepted at Liverpool.
In two short years, the Northern Irishman has fostered an attractive, attacking identity on Merseyside, based on a tactical flexibility and intricate man-management.
Rodgers will continue to develop at Liverpool, and any side would succeed under his stewardship.
Goalkeeper: Joe Hart (Manchester City)
Despite Simon Mignolet’s spectacular save last weekend, ultimately ensuring three points in the Reds’ opening Premier League fixture, the Belgian goalkeeper does not make the cut in this line-up.
The Liverpool shot-stopper still has work to do.
In contrast, Citizens man Joe Hart is one of the league’s finest all-round goalkeepers—a mixture of 18-yard box dominance and physical ability.
England’s No. 1 edges this selection on current output.
Right-Back: Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City)
At this juncture, this is a complete no-brainer.
It’s become impossible to mask the dismal performances of Liverpool’s Glen Johnson, and the 29-year-old continues to offer up an unfaltering brand of the insipid.
Meanwhile, new signing Javier Manquillo has offered a pair of excellent performances against Borussia Dortmund and Southampton respectively, and will surely oust the disappointing Johnson in the coming weeks.
In the sky blue corner, however, Argentine right-back Pablo Zabaleta is one of the best around, and is a consistent performer both in defence and going forward to join the attack.
A standout choice for the right defensive flank.
Centre-Back: Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Compatriot to Liverpool’s Mignolet, City defender Vincent Kompany had an indifferent season in 2013/14 underlined by a disastrous display against the Reds in April, gifting Philippe Coutinho a priceless winner.
Nevertheless, and despite a plethora of exceptional centre-back options in both squads, the dominant Belgian remains the Premier League’s best.
Strong in the air and on the ground, as well as being a born leader on and off the pitch, Kompany would captain this XI.
Centre-Back: Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Partnering Kompany would be new Reds signing Dejan Lovren, who has been persistently feted as the perfect replacement for Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher.
It is early days for the Croat on Merseyside, but all signs point to Lovren enjoying a long and successful spell with Liverpool.
The leadership qualities of Kompany would be complemented by the respective authority of the 25-year-old centre-back, who is also an adept reader of the game with an impressive composure on the ball.
Left-Back: Alberto Moreno (Liverpool)
City left-backs Gael Clichy and Aleksandar Kolarov are both decent options, but neither are spectacular choices—for this reason, this spot is offered up to Liverpool new boy Alberto Moreno.
The Spaniard is yet to make his debut for the Reds, but is set to be an exciting option for Rodgers this season.
A £12 million summer acquisition from La Liga side Sevilla, Rodgers described Moreno in his pre-City press conference as “a real attacking player that fits Liverpool perfectly.”
With the other options merely passable, Moreno should be given the chance.
Defensive Midfield: Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
The defensive midfield position offers up one of the most high-profile face-offs, with City behemoth Yaya Toure edging it over Reds captain Steven Gerrard.
Whilst Gerrard is thriving in his new, deeper role, Yaya continues to flourish as one of the Premier League’s best all-round midfielders.
Like the Englishman, in a deep-lying role Yaya would require support from the wide men in this diamond-based formation—the Ivorian isn’t truly adept defensively, but is capable of performing as a box-to-box midfielder.
Boasting 20 league goals from this position in 2013/14, Yaya is perfect in this role.
Left Midfield: Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
One of the supporting midfield positions goes to Brazilian playmaker Coutinho, who proved the scourge of Pellegrini’s side last season.
Whilst Rodgers is set to utilise the 22-year-old in the No. 10 role this season, but Coutinho performed impeccably in a hard-working deeper midfield role for the Reds last season.
A serious contender for the Premier League’s supreme creative player, Coutinho would provide admirable support to a deep-lying Yaya whilst also contributing in the attacking third.
Right Midfield: Raheem Sterling (Liverpool)
Scoring the opener—with consummate ease—against City in the aforementioned Reds victory, Raheem Sterling underlined his importance to Rodgers’ side with a fine performance.
The 19-year-old continues to go from strength to strength, and comfortably bats off the advances of Citizens James Milner and Jesus Navas for the right-wing slot.
Although he is an unstoppable attacking force at the moment, Sterling’s selection is based predominantly on the defensive contributions of the Reds’ maverick teenager.
Running—no pun intended—Sterling closest is Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson.
Central Attacking Midfield: David Silva (Manchester City)
David Silva: "Why wouldn't I stay & keep winning trophies with a fantastic team?" http://t.co/DudwgAJtD3 #mcfc pic.twitter.com/UeJvQ3MXyf
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) August 12, 2014
The plaudits will always lie at the feet of Kompany, Yaya or Sergio Aguero, but City’s most important player is by far and away Spanish playmaker David Silva.
Signing a new, long-term contract earlier this month, Silva will have given Pellegrini’s squad a welcome boost ahead of what promises to be a tough Premier League season for the defending champions.
Silva scored the first in the Citizens’ opening victory over Newcastle United, but it is in the Spaniard’s ability to guide the ball accurately through defences that is paramount to this XI.
Striker: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
Mario Balotelli may have captured the imaginations of excitable Reds in recent days, but it remains that English centre-forward Daniel Sturridge is Rodgers’ main man up front.
Behind Luis Suarez, the 24-year-old was the Premier League’s second most clinical goal scorer last season with 21 goals.
With great movement and exceptional finishing, Sturridge would thrive on the creative abilities of Silva—as evidenced by a great relationship with Coutinho in Merseyside red.
Striker: Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
If Maradona-accomplice Aguero remained fit for the entirety of last season, the Argentine would surely have run both Suarez and Sturridge closest for the Premier League Golden Boot.
This season, having returned from a summer lay-off in time to score City’s second against Newcastle, the striker will be hoping to capitalise on a lengthy run in sky blue.
Partnering Sturridge, Aguero would be a phenomenal attacking outlet within this XI.
Substitutes’s Bench: Mignolet, Sagna, Sakho, Gerrard, Henderson, Nasri, Dzeko
Note: No Balotelli in the XI or bench as he hasn’t officially completed his move at the time of writing.
Do you agree with our selections? Let us know in the comments below.